Driver William Searle 'blamed Specsavers' after fatal crash

Jerry Daniel Image copyright Family handout
Image caption The court heard Mr Daniell was travelling under the 30mph speed limit at the time of the crash

A man who tried to blamed Specsavers after a crash in which a motorcyclist was killed has been convicted of causing death by careless driving.

William Searle, 74, had had his eyes tested before he crashed into Jerry Daniell in Devon last year.

Exeter Crown Court heard he "did not see" Mr Daniell, 53, as he drove off a garage forecourt into his path.

Searle, of Haccombe, received a three-month jail term suspended for a year and banned from driving.

More on this story, and other Devon and Cornwall news.

The defendant said he believed his eyesight was "good enough for him to drive", as he had had the eye test two weeks before and had his licence renewed.

Blind spots

He told the court: "I never saw the motorcycle. I cannot answer why I did not see it.

"I had been to Specsavers and had my eyes checked. They never said anything about me not being able to drive."

Consultant ophthalmologist Dr Dominic McHugh, called by the defence, said Searle's vision may have been adequate to pass the standard on the day he was tested, but his diabetes meant he could develop blind spots at any time.

Expert evidence at the trial showed Mr Daniell should have been visible for at least five and up to 12 seconds before Searle pulled out on to the road.

After the crash on 22 September 2016 police tested Searle, who failed to read a car number plate from 20m (65ft) wearing the same glasses he had on the day of the crash on Shaldon Road in Newton Abbot.

'Quite simply careless'

In sentencing, Judge Geoffrey Mercer QC, told him: "It may be there were difficulties with your eyesight which were a contributory factor and it may be you were not fully aware of the extent of those difficulties, but you were aware your sight was far from perfect.

"The jury have understandably found that what you did, quite simply, was careless. I consider a suspended sentence is justified because of the seriousness of this incident."

Searle was banned from driving for 18 months, fined, and the judge ordered an extended re-test.

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